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The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done: How I Changed My Name to Saul of Hearts


Most of you can probably guess that Saul of Hearts isn’t the name I was born with. I’m not going to tell you what that name is, but I’m sure you can figure it out, either by asking someone who knows or Googling it.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with my birth name — it just wasn’t for me.

It’s the name that I wrote on the top of my reports when I was a straight-A student. It’s the name that my teachers called out during roll call, at school plays, at science fairs.

It’s a name that other people gave me. And I’ve never been OK with letting people define me from the outside.

I knew from early on that someday I would change it. But still, it was an uphill battle against conventional thinking, societal expectations, and 20 years of momentum.

The biggest obstacles came from those whom I thought would support me the most — my close friends and confidantes, who thought they knew the real me.

The more I fought to assert my identity — my right to define myself as I saw fit — the more important it became to me, even more than the name itself.

It was scary, frustrating, and deeply rewarding, all at once.

I learned how a name — that most personal of things — can hold so much meaning for so many different people.

What I thought would be a simple process took years.

And yet, even if the name I had chosen meant nothing to me, the process of changing it taught me everything.

It challenged people to look at me differently and rethink their assumptions about who I was.

I could finally start the process of defining myself, word by word.

****

The first time I went by the name Saul was around my junior year of college. Everyone already knew me by my birth name, so I wasn’t trying to “change” it yet.

It was a pen name, an alter-ego — the first four letters of my last name, in fact, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch.

I had a few friends who went by other names — who’d had one nickname in college, and another in high school, or who took on a stage name when they performed with their band. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me.

After college, I started hanging out with even more unconventional people.

I went to Burning Man, where everyone had a “playa name.” If someone introduced themselves as Fuckwad Sparklepony, then by God, you would call them Fuckwad Sparklepony.

You would never ask someone their real name. What was a real name, after all? Why was your playa name less real than your name in the default world?

It was exciting to meet someone who went by “Lucifer,” or “Lt. Disaster.” It would be a letdown to find out their name was really Dr. Jacob Smith.

After a few years of going to Burning Man, and traveling the country, and hanging out with hippies and couchsurfers and anarchists, I ended up with two groups of friends: those who knew me as Saul, and those friends from college who still called me by my birth name.

Eventually, those two worlds were going to clash.

****

A few years after college, I decided to go all in.

I looked down the list of possible surnames I’d come up with over the years. None of them worked.

Finally, in a burst of inspiration, I settled on “Of-Hearts”. It was so absurd, so obviously not my birth name, that it just might work.

I changed my Facebook name, my online dating profiles, my resume. This was it.

And then I hit the wall of resistance. My friends just didn’t get it.

I’d ask my friends to call me by my new name at parties and game nights, and they’d just shrug and forget. I’d send out e-mails signed “Saul,” and they’d come back, “Hey _______.”

Scott and Jenny, who had been to Burning Man with me, and knew other people who called me Saul, were more understanding than others.

They’d often slip and use my birth name, but would quickly correct themselves. It meant a lot to me to know that they were trying.

But my friend Drake took it personally. He seemed to think that because he’d known me so long, he knew the “real” me.

That changing my name was a personal affront to him — that it infringed upon his right to call me as he saw fit.

Or, worst of all, that I was trying to be something that I’m not.

Occasionally, we’d host guests from Airbnb at our house, with whom I was the contact person. They knew me from our conversations as “Saul,” and they would show up asking for me.

But when I introduced myself, Drake would step in, rolling his eyes: “That’s not Saul,” he said, “that’s ________.”

And I had to explain the whole story. A story that, frankly, I didn’t want to explain. I didn’t think it was my responsibility to explain away a name I’d never chosen in the first place.

I became afraid of bringing new friends over to the house. If I went on a date with a girl from OKCupid, I would hesitate to bring her home.

I didn’t want her to think that I was lying to her. I didn’t want her to think I had something to hide. She could Google “Saul of Hearts” and find my life poured out on blogs and social networking profiles. I was as transparent as could be.

I just didn’t want to make love to her as ________. It wasn’t me any more.

So Drake and I began to fight. We had long conversations about it. He didn’t think it was his responsibility to “remember” what to call me. He thought I was trying to run from my old identity.

I just wanted him to accept my new identity, to give me the space and freedom to be myself.

Eventually, I fell in with a new group of friends, a bunch of artists and Burners who lived in an intentional community called Synchronicity.

I went over for dinner one evening and introduced myself as Saul of Hearts, waiting for the inevitable skepticism. What’s your real name? someone was bound to say.

It never came. Weeks passed, and no one asked.

I had never been so grateful.

Over the next few months, the pressure eased. Suddenly, I didn’t have to be on edge anymore, waiting for one word from Drake to start the inevitable landslide back to my birth name.

Now, if he called me ________, he would be the one in the minority. He would be the one that people would look at funny: “Who are you calling _______? Do you mean Saul?”

Occasionally, as my groups of friends mingled, my name did too. Some friends learned my birth name as others adapted to my new identity.

It didn’t feel quite as wrong to hear my old name any more. It became more and more rare for anyone to call me by it.

I still use it on my legal documents, and on my driver’s license. I might change it someday.

But it was no longer quite so threatening. It no longer had any power over me. It made for a funny anecdote when my new roommates sorted through the mail.

Maybe a time will come when this name too wears out, and I’ll have to change it all over again.

But it doesn’t matter. The transition has already happened. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and if I had to, I’d do it again.

Written by

Think you can only have one job? One home? One love? Unlock your poly-potential | Lateral Freelancing since 2013. www.saulofhearts.com @saulofhearts

 

It Happened To Me: I Had Dinner With A Cult (Uh, I Think)


At 17, I went to a bizarre dinner in rural Mexico with my boyfriend’s family and one of their colleagues. It was … weird. But was it a cult? I might never know.
So, let me preface this: I’m not completely sold on the “cult” title. This is probably because the word “cult” sparks instantaneous imagery of hooded figures in white robes with bleary drug eyes, and of 50-day standoffs in the desert heat. And I couldn’t possibly have attended a potluck with a cult leader and his followers, right? I keep denying it out of residual shock and disbelief, but the older I get, the more convinced I feel.

Let me back-track. Imagine a 17-year-old, comically cynical Gabi with frizzy, dyed red hair and a really tragic “thing” for dudes who played Pixies covers on their sick Fenders. Like, come on, Gabs. Have some self-worth! Don’t make out with a closeted Republican just because he can croon some dumb Jeff Buckley song, ya know?
image

Young me, if I must.

Anyway, one of the nicer boyfriends took me on Spring Break Woohoo to visit his family that had just moved to the mountains of Mexico. His dad had been named CEO of a new company there. It was a breathtaking landscape. It wasn’t Cancun, Cabo, or any of the touristy Mexican hot spots, which made it even more beautiful. It was also extremely rural. Picture rolling hills, waving flags, a few bodegas and low business buildings, and then more landscape; that’s all there was outside our penthouse window.
Until we were forced to tag along to dinner with an investor of my BF’s dad’s new company. He described this investor as “very religious.” Aside from that, I knew nothing about the family we would be having dinner with before we wound down their mile-long driveway in the middle of nowhere. The dirt had even changed. There was no longer any grass, just red, red clay.
And then there was this sprawling mansion with a huge iron gate.
We were greeted by The Investor Dude, which is what I will call him because I have no recollection of his name. The Dude shook hands with all of us in that way religious folk do, with both hands clasping around mine, and all of that blue eye contact. He exchanged a few words with the CEO, they had a few pats on the back, and we headed to the entrance of the house.
In the foyer, we were greeted by a couple of pretty ladies. What struck me the most was how they were dressed — all buxom and teen dreamy in short skirts and tiny peasant shirts that could have been from American Eagle.
I’m sure they gave us a tour of the house, but I really don’t recall. I do recall seeing their acreage of plowed fields, and the gathering outside underneath a tarp tent. Something was on the spit, roasting in its original animal shape.
Then things started sinking in. There were about 40 people gathered, easily more. They all lived on the grounds. The men were roasting, hauling, pulling, skinning; the women were wiping, coddling, brushing, washing. It was like a line divided this massive backyard into two arenas: where the men worked and where the women worked. The women had babies, kids, and preteens hanging from their bodies, and the men had each other.
The only non-busy bodies there were the kids. So of course, that’s who I chose to converse with. In my somewhat hazy memory, they were all blonde, but I think it’s my mind’s way of projecting one little girl I had a meaningful and terrifying interaction with on every child there.
I sat at a picnic bench under the tarp, smelling all the good food and watching teenage girls chat with my boyfriend like teenage girls do. Everyone seemed festive, so I asked some questions.
A blonde little girl and her sisters sat down in front of me and thanked me for coming, which was very adult to me. I responded politely and asked about the dynamics of the household. Did they all live there? Were they all related? Who was her mother? Was she there?
The girl responded eerily eloquently. They were not all technically related, but they were brothers and sisters before God, her mother was with her fourth baby sister, and yes, she enjoyed living there very much.
“What do you do during the days?” She explained that they have prayer in the mornings (she hated waking up before sunrise, but it was for the best), then they have homeschool, then they have service, then they have vocation. Vocation: sewing, cleaning, washing, wringing, brushing, grooming, and what have you. Then more prayer. And they had meals in between that they cooked for the household.
I was stunned a little bit. Such a young kid with such a tight schedule? No complaints? It was obviously uncomfortable for me — a mallrat high-schooler — to come to terms with.
Then a man came over and sat her on his lap. I didn’t ask if he was her father; I will never know. But I continued to talk to her as if he wasn’t there, asking her: “Would you ever want to leave here? Maybe go to college out of state?”
The little creature became enraged. In a way I was not expecting from someone so small and sweet.
“Why would you ask that? I would never leave my family; we all love it here. People don’t get it. They come over and they don’t get it. I don’t ever want to leave; I don’t know why I would have to leave.”
During her miniature tirade, the man stared coolly at me from underneath her. Like he had nothing to worry about.
The rest of the night was a barrage of prayers and songs and babies crying. There were a lot of babies. And the little girl I mentioned warmed up to me again somewhat, offering to serve me and my boyfriend’s family second helpings.
As we left, my boyfriend whispered that the teen girls in peasant shirts wanted to take him hiking around the property the next day. He said he liked the place. He liked how friendly these people were, how familial, how pure.
I said I’d pass. I saw something else. Something you see when you don’t live on the sunny side of a patriarchal power structure.
What do you all think? Was this a run-in with a cult? Am I just brainwashed from pop culture cult coverage? Could this have just been a very consensual commune?

How to Clear the Clutter in Your Life


Sometimes our dining room table gets cluttered.

For one, it’s a big table. Every time I have to squeeze around the end chair, sliding my back against the wall, I remind myself that it’s not for the table we live in our house. It actually takes up so much space in our dining room that it’s become the easiest place to set stuff. Toys. Mail. Homework. Cups. More cups. The generous tabletop makes it simpler to just move things around rather than move them away, and after a while, it accumulates a swath of unrelated, inordinate objects into one centralized location, which is called clutter.

Which can be a lot like life.

We are constantly piling on one thing after another onto the tabletop of our lives. There are always more things we should be concerned about, and give attention to, and make room for — somehow. Before long, it’s a life full of clutter. It’s a whirlwind of good intentions, but bad directions — maybe a load of participation, but a litter of purpose. And it stays this way until God’s arm intervenes, mighty to sweep, and clears the table.

Which he does for us in 2 Corinthians 5:9.

The Reality Tension

In the course of defending his apostleship and the gospel he preaches, Paul assures the Corinthians that he is full of hope, that he doesn’t lose heart, that he is always of good courage (2 Corinthians 3:12; 4:1, 16; 5:6, 8). Why? Because the message he proclaims guarantees this courage. It possesses a surpassing glory beyond the veiled-faced ministry of Moses (2 Corinthians 3:11–13), and it reveals a surpassing power beyond anything for which we’re capable (2 Corinthians 4:7). And on top of all this, Paul knows that one day he is going to be raised from the dead (2 Corinthians 4:14). Everything of this world that surrounds him — the seen reality — is transient. Soon enough it’ll be gone. But simultaneous to this seen reality, there is the unseen, the eternal. This is the reality that will never end (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Paul stays on these realities into chapter five. There’s the tent of our earthly home, our bodies here; and there’s the eternality of our heavenly dwelling, our bodies there (2 Corinthians 5:1). We groan here (in our earthy bodies) to be there (in our glorious bodies). This is the wonderful tension the Spirit creates in us now, like in Romans 8:23. And it’s more reason for Paul to have courage. There’s more to this life, and in fact, it’s even better. “Away from the body and at home with the Lord” means a deeper experience of Jesus’s presence. Life here is a life of faith in hope of that day (2 Corinthians 5:6–8; Philippians 1:21; Romans 8:24–25).

See, the clutter of our lives makes us lose sight of this — that right now there is a deeper, more wonderful reality awaiting us. We know we should be more heavenly minded. We really do want to stop and smell the roses. We want to experience every “possible theophany” out there. But we’re so here, so now, so busy. There is a tension.

At the End of the Day

Paul seems to understand, or he might as well, because this is where God, through his apostle’s words, clears the table for us. 2 Corinthians 5:9:

So whether at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

Paul is saying: Look, whether we’re there with Jesus, or whether we’re here living by faith, the overarching, clear-the-table goal is that we please him.

It’s really that simple. At the end of the day, what matters is whether we have pleased Jesus. When it’s all said and done, we’re going to stand before him (2 Corinthians 5:10). Not our family, not our neighbors, not our boss, not our kids, not our colleagues. We will stand before Jesus. We will see him face to face. And in that moment, the only thing that matters is what he thinks.

For His Good Pleasure

God has stepped in now. He has raked away the rubble. He has opened our eyes.

Our aim in life is to please Jesus. That is the ambition of our every day, our every decision. Does Jesus take delight in this? Which, to be sure, has no determining function in our righteous status as God’s children. By faith alone, in Christ alone, because of grace alone, we are brought into Christ, justified in him, saved from God’s wrath, made his children forever (Ephesians 2:5–8; Romans 3:23–24; John 1:12–13; Romans 5:9). Don’t mistake “please” to mean placate, or appease, or propitiate. That work has been taken care of. We’re talking about joy, about delight — about pleasure, which Wayne Grudem calls an “essential component of any genuine personal relationship” (For the Fame of God’s Name, 279).

Will it make him glad? Will it cheer his heart? Is it for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13)? That is the question before us, and the enduring mission in and under and beyond every detail of our lives. We make it our aim to please him.

The table is cleared, just like that.

Written by

Husband to @melissaparnell; Dad to Elizabeth, Hannah, Micah, & John Owen. I write and do stuff @desiringgod to help people see the glory of Jesus.

 

Mean Black Girls – Being One


“In this army,” my drill sergeant father told his troops, “there is no white, black, brown, or yellow—there is only green.” At home, there was no black, brown, yellow or green allowed period. The green was thrown in there lest one of my older sisters decided she wanted to date a GI. My father always proudly told the story how my grandfather knew JFK personally but didn’t vote for him because he was a “pope- loving Catholic.” Yes, I was raised a white as Wonder Bread Lutheran, thank you very much.

But as much as our parents tried to keep us in their white only world, we girls each broke out in our own way. One sister married a Native American / Hispanic hybrid; another decided to go GI Green; and me? I joined the Baha’i Faith—a religion that has as its major tenet that all humanity is one family and if we don’t start acting like it, the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

Of course the idea that we are really one human family sounded great to me, but I had a problem. I was at a loss in the practice department. My family had always considered other members of the human family who were not like them—well, different—too different to associate with. We were not to play with the black kids and the Mexican kids?—forget about it. They were different. They were other.

In case there was a doubt about the Bollerud family policy on the matter—everyone but white people were just not as good, educated, and hard-working as whites. So even though my spirit was very attracted to this spiritual truth of ONENESS, my brain had been washed by seven generations of white Protestant indoctrination. “God, how are You going to help me with this?” I wondered out loud. I didn’t know He had His ways.

Before I became a Baha’i, my whole relationship with God was fear-filled supplication: “God, please don’t let Mrs. Fine ask me to do a problem on the board.” “God, please don’t let me get picked for hall monitor.” “God please, please PLEASE! Don’t let Sandy see me!” Ah, Sandy, how do I describe her? Sandy was a 250 pound 6th grade black bully who definitely interpreted Black Power her own way. Mrs. Fine would leave the class and put Sandy in charge— probably because she was afraid of her too. Then Sandy would tell everyone to shut up and scan the room for her victim. That’s when I would start praying for a school fire, for God to turn me into a chair or for someone else to make a sound so Sandy’s Raptor eyes would lock on that poor soul and proceed to verbally eat him or her alive.

I thought that God and I understood each other: I would pray and snivel and He would protect me from all things I deemed scary. It seemed to work because that year I was never picked for hall monitor; Mrs. Fine never chose me for board work and apparently I was a chair because Sandy never saw me. God was protecting me, I was convinced. So when I was 16 and became a Baha’i, I didn’t worry. I thought I was special. I mean, I recognized the new messenger of God —surely my protection would be extended, even increased, right? Wrong: And the wisdom of every command shall be tested. Wait a minute! No one told me I would be tested!

And tested I was — three times that year—by three different black girls all bent on humiliating me, mentally torturing me and even threatening me with physical violence! And the prayers in my little maroon Baha’i Book lost their magic! All the Remover of Difficulties, Tablets of Ahmad and Fire Tablets for my protection were all to no avail. I didn’t understand what was going on. If this was a test of my faith, I sure didn’t know how to pass it.

But I knew I had to do something because a red hot hate for those girls was growing in me and frankly spreading to all black people. I felt like such a fraud saying my prayers but I couldn’t help it. I hated these girls—a blinding hate. I mean, what did I ever do to them? Nothing. I thought about that deeply. If I didn’t do anything, then it wasn’t really about me. I thought about my latest tormentor –and took myself out of the equation. Oh it wasn’t really about me! This girl had a home and a life. Maybe it was bad. Maybe it was sad. Maybe she needed some Remover Of Difficulties herself. So I prayed for her. I didn’t pray with the hidden agenda of being released from my pain but honestly and truly prayed that she be released from hers.

She was in the bathroom the next day alone when I walked in. I almost walked back out, but I stood my ground. She had on a pretty belt.

“I like your belt,” I said.

“Thank you,” She said. I looked at her in the mirror. She was tired and her eyes were a little red. For the first time, she looked like a human to me and not a monster, so I spoke.

“Are you okay? “ I asked. “You look a little sad.” She, for the first time looked at me like I was human and not a bug and said:

“Yeah, I just broke up with my boyfriend.”

“Oh. I’m sorry,” I said.

“Thanks,” she said and then the bell rang and we went to math class.

That little encounter changed everything. We didn’t hold hands and sing Kumbaya or anything, but the torture ended. I became inconsequential to her and she became a person with feelings to me. The rest of that year, I’d look her in the eye as we passed in the hall and say, “Hi” and sometimes— she said “Hi” back.

If this was a spiritual test then I passed it—I grew as a result and became more likely to look black people in the eye and smile. And I discovered something—9 times out of ten—THEY SMILED BACK! And not to be racially profiling or anything but much more often than not, 99.9 percent of the black people I’ve ever encountered are warm and friendly. Is that a positive prejudice to have? I don’t know but I do know that in any social situation I now naturally gravitate to the black folks—because they always make me feel at home.

Isn’t that what seeing everyone as your family is supposed to feel like?

My kids didn’t have to overcome the lack of experience with different kinds of people like I did. They grew up not noticing a difference. Being members of the Baha’i community, they were intimately mixing with all the people of the rainbow.

When my son Daniel was two, we were at a Braum’s (the best ice cream shop in Oklahoma) dining room eating our ice cream cones. He was wandering around a bit but instead of sitting back down with the family, he walked over to an older black couple and smiled at them. They smiled back. And then Daniel just did what felt right. He climbed in their booth and ate his ice cream like they were his grandma and grandpa.

At that moment, I realized, I can wear all the t-shirts I want that say: One Planet, One People …Please or pass out a million pamphlets that say “Ye are the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch” but this is how the oneness of humanity is really achieved—one smile at a time.

 

Being a Stepmother Is Nothing Like I Thought It Would Be


When people ask me if I have children of my own, I usually answer with an apologetic, “no.” My brain then floods with a string of excuses from which I choose my next sentences depending on my listener’s facial expression.

“I am an educator, so I have hundreds of children.”
Sympathetic smile.

“I tried, but it wasn’t in God’s plan for me.”
Sad nod.

“I have a brood of great nephews and nieces and love being an ideal aunt.”
Uncomfortable laughter.

Nearly seven years post-menopause, I still have people gently pat my hand and tell me there’s still time. After acknowledging the unintentional compliment, I make a joke about a miracle.

My identity as a married woman without children took an odd turn when, at age 50, I remarried a divorced father of two teens. From all outward appearances, I now have a unique version of the life I always imagined for myself. I am quick to post online photographs of my newfound family, while friends and relatives are quick to celebrate my status.

But here’s the reality: For the entire first year, I felt more childless as a stepmother than I did before I remarried.

My husband’s children like me well enough; we get along fine. They are respectful, obedient, charming, funny and affectionate young people, just like my students and my nieces and nephews. The difference with students is that you see them everyday and the relationship expectation is bold and clear: As a teacher, you may be the one person who makes a significant difference in the direction of their lives. And the boundaries of these relationships are also clear and agreed upon in advance.

Similarly, the beloved aunt has her special, clearly understood place: blood-bond; in no uncertain terms family; you can’t get rid of her if you want to; and the added bonus of similar-looking noses, curly hair or a quirky laugh that only shared genes can transmit.

As a stepmother, I am proud to say that I have none of the jealousies found in young wives who dream of having a man all to themselves, despite the fact that he has children from a previous marriage. I am a self-made woman, so nothing material they receive from their father is in any way a sacrifice on my part. The shopping, cooking and cleaning that many young stepmothers complain about is taken care of by my husband, who sees his children so seldom that he delights in any care-taking they need. And they are teens, so self-sufficiency is growing as quickly as their feet.

Yet, I still feel disingenuous calling them my children. They aren’t. Even though they have bedrooms in our house, I sometimes feel like a guest at the dinner table. The discussions about past holidays, childhood remembrances, blood relatives, insider jokes, lifelong likes and dislikes leaves me feeling like a an outsider and causes me to be even more aware of what I missed in not having children. It’s kind of lonely being a stepmother. It tends to keep pushing the lack in your face. To compound this, I don’t cook like their mother. The ways I bundle socks, line up condiments in the refrigerator, load the dishwasher, sometimes grimace, burp or (god forbid) fart are clearly noticed as foreign and gross, but never commented on because they have learned to be polite in the company of strangers. I am an outsider. My gifts are suspiciously viewed as trying too hard. The framed photographs of my family are just a bunch of strangers on a once familiar mantle. My dog smells bad to them. Still, as far as step-mothering experiences go, I know I have it really good. It’s just that being a stepmother is nothing like I thought (or dare I admit, hoped) it would be.

As soon as I knew marriage was the next step in my relationship with Jeff, I began writing letters to his children to give them at our wedding. As a stepdaughter myself, I knew everything necessary to alleviate the anxiety of displacement the kids could feel when I entered their father’s life. So, I wrote letters explaining how much Jeff loved them and described all the ways he showed me he honored them, missed them, loved them, grieved for their company when we were not with them. I was determined to be as unthreatening as possible. The unopened letters sit still wrapped in the white satin ribbon on my stepdaughter’s desk.

As soon as we were engaged, I took it upon myself to try and befriend their mother, as well as speak highly of her in their company, even though she drives by me on the street without as much as a wave. Alone time is important to dads and their kids, so whenever it is appropriate, I bow out and let them have bonding outings without me. They are kind children, but they don’t need me in their lives. Not now, at least.

I dreamed of being asked for advice, attending their school functions, introducing them to my friends and family. I imagined sharing secrets, fixing warm soup when they felt badly or listening to their hopes and fears. I envisioned text messages, phone calls, long walks in the park, doing dishes together, meeting their friends.

They are teenagers.Their parents got divorced. It’s not about me.

But there is still time.

Being a good stepparent is about the future. It’s like a bank account where a lifetime of little deposits may one day return as a great gift of appreciation. At least that is what I am banking on. My hope is that one day, after years of my consistent generosity, they will love me. And this love will be different than the love they feel for their teachers or their aunts because I will see them through all that is yet to come.

When they graduate, I will be there. When they fail, I will be there. If they marry, if they are heartbroken, if they have children, when they get promoted or fired, I will be there. And even if they are never able to meet my expectations, I know that love endures and is well worth all the tiny griefs along the way.

Loving someone with no promise of any return is a sacred kind of love. Because of its unconditional nature, a true stepmother who loves mightily from the background is maybe one of the truest forms of parenting. While I am not a birth mother, I now know that I am a universal mother. For me, that is more than enough.

source medium – > https://medium.com/open-source-family/77d3a0faa986

 

This Is Forty: I Failed at Online Dating for All the Right Reasons


Ezinne  in Culture Club

 

When you are in your late thirties and still flailing about with respect to suitors; you will start to panic, no matter how self-contained you are. Considering my Nigerian background, my situation is downright precarious; it’s almost as if I am silently murdering my parents.

Culture Club (without Boy George)

Culture Club (without Boy George) (Photo credit: technokitten)

Not only do I have to deal with my own shattered dreams, I have to contend with the disappointment embedded in my parents’ eyes whenever they visit, and I am forced to communicate with them face-to-face. They are convinced that their daughter is purposely stifling her chances when it comes to finding a suitable mate. They are convinced that I am avoiding marriage because I am too self-absorbed to willingly commit to building a family of my own.

I was hoping to God that my parents were wrong in their diagnosis, but the truth is that I haven’t been doing my best to increase my chances for a favorable outcome. Long distance relationships or liaisons with unavailable men haven’t produced fruitful results, but for some reason that I am sure qualifies me for therapy, they are instinctively convenient.

Read more – > https://medium.com/race-class/68c2489327cc

 

 

 

We Were Just Kids


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Daniela Mardero in Human Parts

 

The skinny ones, the ones your parents warned you about. Held together with water and soda crackers. Our cheeks filthy and our hands like battlegrounds. The whole world was ours for the taking. When you’re four feet tall, the universe is your stomping ground. Limitless. You could have it all. Running in packs until our feet bled, running some more. Stopping only to collect the longest cigarette butts, saving them in an old tin can. Drowning our grief in prayers, sending our prayers out into the cavities of the sky.

Limitless

Limitless (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We were the wild kids. Freer than horses. Freer than an ocean. Tie a pillow case around our necks, and we swore we could fly. God made us out of skin, bones, and all the hope he had left. Set us in to the world telling us to run, run till your feet bleed. Not even the thunder will stop you. And we did, I swore we did. We ran like giants. Only four feet tall but we could see over the edge of the earth, we could see the sun and the stars. Close enough to stick our straws in it. Close enough to kiss the wings of Icarus.

We were the burning kids. Born from piles of ash. Born from all that was left. We were untouchable. Lighter than the birds. Even the smallest wind could pick us up and spread us as it willed. Maps of the earth etched into the palms of our hands. And it was all ours, like He promised. All the water in the world couldn’t kill us. We swore, four feet tall and we swore, we were mightier than all the gods. We were vaster than all the universe. More powerful than the wind and the rain.

We were the dying kids. Gone before we’d had the chance to breath. Suffocated by dust. Still we ran, ran, ran until we found the answers we were looking for. They don’t dig graves for you when you’re four feet tall. They lay you down in the sun, water you until you plant yourself in the grass, or evaporate like you never there. But I swear, we were there. We’ve seen his promises, we’ve lived his dreams. We dying kids. Dirty knees. Buck teeth. Four feet tall. Lighter than air. We ran until there was no more universe left to see.

post originally published on Medium.com ! – > https://medium.com/human-parts/2d601606703

 

 

 

How to reconcile hope with failure


never give up

Living the life of an optimist, or one naturally filled with hope, how do you continually reconcile a seemingly never-ending barrage of disappointment? Certainly, merely choosing to live optimistically, or being hopeful, doesn’t make you immune to disappointment, nor does it mean that everything you hope for will come true.

But for an optimist, that doesn’t matter. Optimism and disappointment are not antithetical. They co-exist in perfect harmony. In truth, the relationship between hope and disappointment is symbiotic, not mutually exclusive.

Often people think that if you have “realistic” expectations, you’ll be better prepared for let downs. They think that if you are optimistic, and too hopeful, then you’ll have farther to fall. Because of this, many people don’t dare to hope, there’s too much risk.

So they hedge their dreams based on what they perceive to be the most likely outcome, and as such, they usually get what they aim for (since they don’t aim as high). The result is that when they do miss, it’s a bigger deal. They’re not as used to it.

But someone who lives in hope experiences disappointment all the time, for you very seldom get exactly what you hoped for. So “disappointment” simply becomes part of the process, and you start to view it differently. Much like a runner becomes accustomed to the pain of running. To them, running isn’t pain, running is an outlet, it’s freeing, and it’s emotional. But when you’re not a runner, running is painful.

So when the hopeful don’t realize the full extent of their desire, it’s very seldom disappointing at all. Instead, they’re usually fueled by their failure. It spurs them to try again, and again, and again.

You don’t lower your aim just because you missed. You just shoot again.

read more -> https://medium.com/what-i-learned-today/2de08ffb5204

 

Product Names Used as Verbs


build a narrative not a mission statement

 

Successful social products have one commonality that signifies their dominance: they are talked about as verbs.

English: Bernardo Hernandez, head of global pr...

English: Bernardo Hernandez, head of global product marketing at Google (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There has been a fair amount of discussion that the most important product marketing is how users explain a product. A company can launch a million marketing campaigns to educate people on their product, but ultimately the users will create the narrative of what that product is, how to use it and when to use it.

The most successful social products share a common theme, their names become verbs when people talk about using them. We’ve all heard, “did you facebook her”? “you should instagram that”, “I linkedin with him”. This dialogue has two main consequences: it drives usage as people articulate these products as verbs, and they engrain the cadence of how we should use these products.

A beautiful sunset? Instagram it. A friend drunkenly dancing? Snapchat it. A really awesome quote someone said at a keynote? Tweet it.

source

read more -> https://medium.com/i-m-h-o/b84265af447b

 

 

Struggle or Challenge?


What’s the difference?

A struggle is a burden.
A challenge is an opportunity.

A struggle is, “I can’t wait for this to be done.”
A challenge is, “I can’t wait to see where this goes.”

A struggle is being in one place, but needing to be in another.
A challenge is fully being where you are, not needing to be anywhere else.

A struggle is, “How can I get out?”
A challenge is, “What more can I give?”

A struggle is resistance.
A challenge is acceptance.

Think about something important to you that you’re working on improving. A relationship, a project, a goal.

Source

Read more – > https://medium.com/better-humans/2cd03311c35d